Facts have emerged why Nigeria may not reduce the $5.2 billion fine slammed on the MTN Nigeria over failure to deactivate unregistered cellphone SIM cards.
Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the regulatory body in a statement said MTN had in the past refused to pay similar fine when other operators complied.
According to NCC spokesperson, Tony Ojobo, when all four Nigerian cellphone service providers missed an August 11 deadline, they were fined from $19,000 for Airtel to $511,000 for MTN, but only MTN failed to pay.
Moreover, he said when an enforcement team audited MTN from September 2-4, the company admitted it still had 5.2 million unregistered SIM cards active on its network when other companies had complied.
“They have always been flouting regulations,” he said.
The deadline for the payment of the fine was initially fixed at today, but the South Africa’s telecoms giant in a cautionary statement issued by its Corporate Affairs on Monday said the NCC had reviewed it, saying it will not be payable until negotiations have been concluded.
The fine of N200,000 the equivalent of US$5.2 billion was imposed on MTN Nigeria by NCC for each unregistered subscriber the company did not disconnected at a recommended time.
MTN Group is the statement said “although the NCC set a deadline for payment of the fine by Monday, 16 November 2015, “shareholders are advised that the Nigerian authorities have, without prejudice, agreed that the imposed fine will not be payable until the negotiations have been concluded.”
The statement advised shareholders that the Executive Chairman of the Company, Mr Phuthuma Nhleko, had personally met with the Nigerian authorities to continue the ongoing discussions with them regarding the fine.
“These discussions include matters of non-compliance and the remedial measures that may have to be adopted to address this,” it said.
“MTN is committed to resolving the matter together with the NCC as soon as possible and will continue to update stakeholders of any material developments regarding the afore-mentioned fine via SENS.
“Accordingly, shareholders are advised to continue to exercise caution when dealing in the Company’s securities until a further announcement is made.”
By Pita Ochai